August 6, 1922 - November 30, 2019
James Andrew Wynn, Sr. was born to Sally Ann James Wynn and Andrew Jackson Wynn on Sunday, August 6, 1922 on the family’s farm in Gold Point, North Carolina. He married Naomi Claudette Lynch on January 31, 1944, in Williamston, North Carolina. They had eight children in 24 years. He died on November 30, 2019 in Chesapeake, Virginia. Born the fifth of seven children, James grew up to be a vibrant, witty, and talented young man. He met the love of his life, 16-year-old Naomi Claudette Lynch, at the Martin County Fair in 1943. After marrying in 1944, the two initially lived with Naomi’s parents in Williamston but were soon compelled to move in with James’s aging parents in Gold Point to take over the family farm. Although James was initially drafted to serve during World War II, the military directed him to return home to continue farming in support of the War efforts. He described those years as frightening due to the shortages of food and the threat to our country’s democracy. On the farm, James followed his father’s skills in growing tobacco, peanuts, cotton, corn, and soybeans. He later became a self-taught carpenter and built or repaired numerous residences and businesses, mostly in the Martin County area. To make ends meet for his large family, James occasionally also took on hazardous jobs, such as replacing the metal shoes on the hooves of mules and working in a chemical factory. He was a provider and unlike many who moved to the northern states during the Great Migration period, James remained in Martin County all his life, serving as a steadfast and dependable son, husband, father, and leader in his community. James did not often engage in recreational activities, perhaps due to his unceasing commitment to finding ways to provide for his family. His joy in life was, instead, his immediate and extended family. He traveled often to the Norfolk area to visit family and friends. Because his parents had over 30 first cousins within a few miles of his house, he spent untold hours visiting with them and sharing family stories. And when a great fire destroyed the next-door home in the eighties, he built houses in its place for his sister Lucy and her husband Nat and for his daughter Joan. In his later years, James left farming and took a job as a carpenter with the Martin County Community Action Center. There, he supervised the weatherization program and taught teams of young men to repair and restore homes for aging and economically disadvantaged families. James retired from that position when he became unable to climb on the rooftops or hoist the sheetrock for walls, but it remained a common sight to see the neighborhood young men drive up in pickup trucks and spend hours asking him questions about various building tasks. “Mr. James,” as they would call him, was a friend, teacher, and mentor to many young men throughout Eastern North Carolina. In his Christian walk, a young James joined the Willow Chapel Missionary Baptist Church in Gold Point where his father served on the Deacon Board and his mother was a long-time Mother of the Church. In later years, he would fondly recall vivid memories from those days: Seeing the church men use axes to hew out the massive oak beams that girded the church’s foundation. Hearing the “dry” prayers of his father, contrasted with the colorful prose of other deacons who would pray, “Lord, I want you to come on down ‘heah’ to Willow Chapel Baptist Church with a fan in one hand and a whip in the other. I want you to fan out all evil and whip out the old Devil.” Watching the Deacons fire up the pot-bellied wood burning stoves on Sunday morning, followed by the ringing of a massive bell high in the church steeple. Listening to the soul-stirring voices of his cousins and neighbors in the choir to chords played “by ear” on an upright piano. Fellowshipping faithfully with church leaders, parishioners, and the community. Some years later, James, Naomi, and other Willow Chapel members branched off and formed Providence Missionary Baptist Church in Parmele, North Carolina. They brought with them many of the tenets and traditions of Willow Chapel, and in more recent years the two churches have grown increasingly intertwined, today sharing the same pastor. When Providence members donated land and labor to build a new church in Robersonville, North Carolina, James acted as project designer and supervised the construction. Over his more than 50 years of membership at Providence, James served on the Board of Deacons and at various times was its Chair. James and Naomi had eight children spanning nearly a quarter century. Although James did not complete his final year in high school, he and Naomi inspired and motivated their children to be lifelong learners. Despite financial challenges, the couple never questioned whether their children would go to college. They took great pride in their children’s education and accomplishments. James and Naomi remained on the family farm in Gold Point throughout their 59 wonderful years together. James never quite recovered from Naomi’s sudden passing in 2003, and often reminisced about how much he missed his beautiful wife. Two of the couple’s children also predeceased James. Faced with the unexpected death of three-month-old Jennifer Elaine Wynn in 1952, he tearfully sat in his backyard and fashioned her casket from donated wood. And in 2012, he stoically faced the difficult loss of another daughter, Claudette Romaine Wynn Meeks. James is survived by six children, Angela Wynn Jarrett (Arthur), Joan Elizabeth Wynn Hyman, Judge James Andrew Wynn, Jr. (Jacqueline), Reginald Anthony Wynn, Dr. Anita Syrell Wynn, and Dr. Arnie Montell Wynn (Pamela); from that direct lineage are 17 grandchildren; 17 great-grandchildren; and two great-great-grandchildren. James’s father Andrew passed away in 1951, his mother Sally in 1972. Five of his six siblings also predeceased James: Paul Melton Wynn in 1950, Rosa Aletha Wynn Briley in 1976, Ella Mae Manley Wynn James in 1978, Lucy Mabel Wynn Pugh in 2005, and Mary Elizabeth Wynn Purvis in 2008. His lone surviving sibling is his ever close and loving 95-year-old “baby” sister, Elizabeth Temperance Wynn Howell Woodard, who remains in a nursing home facility in Chesapeake, Virginia. His legacy further includes five nieces and one nephew. This final chapter closes with a man who lived 97 years through love and grace. James Andrew Wynn, Sr., fought the “good fight” and claimed victory through his faithfulness to God’s word, commitment to his Family, and love for his community.
James Andrew Wynn, Sr. was born to Sally Ann James Wynn and Andrew Jackson Wynn on Sunday, August 6, 1922 on the family’s farm in Gold Point, North Carolina. He married Naomi Claudette Lynch on January 31, 1944, in Williamston, North Carolina.... View Obituary & Service Information
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